Sunday, October 31, 2021

Cinema '62: Boo!

It's Halloween! Happy Halloween, everyone! We've discussed the Academy Award nominees of 1962, so, in light of it being October 31st, why not discuss the year's horror offerings? The following ten films were released in the US in 1962, though some were out much earlier in their home countries:

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Cinema '62: Best Actress

Full stop, this might be one of the greatest Best Actress lineups of all time, not a whiff in the lot, everyone giving their all, sometimes above and beyond what's asked of them. The nominees:

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Cinema '62: Best Actor

This is my last post on a Peter O'Toole Oscar nomination! I've managed to watch them all, my thoughts on each are linked below (except for Venus, which I think I reviewed on my long-defunct LiveJournal; at the first-ever Hollmann Awards, its one acting nomination went to Leslie Phillips in Supporting). Naturally, I saved his first for last, because...well, that's just the way it worked out.

Indeed, I've managed to discuss all these actors before. They are favorites of Oscar: a total of 28 nominations, an average of 5.6 noms per actor! Not that those always translated to wins: only four statues among all five, and two of them were Jack Lemmon's. Still, compare that to 1962's Supporting Actor, a five-wide race of one-and-doners; or Supporting Actress, where both first-time nominees were also one-time nominees; or Lead Actress, where...oh, we're talking about that tomorrow. 

In the meantime, the nominees for Best Actor:

Monday, October 25, 2021

Cinema '62: Best Original Screenplay

For the second year in a row, non-English language films dominate the Original Screenplay race. Last Year at Marienbad had been submitted by France for Best Foreign Language Film consideration the year before; beautiful yet inscrutable (to me), it's the kind of film people picture when they say "art film." Through a Glass Darkly won Best Foreign Language Film the previous year for Sweden, a Bergman film dealing with a family on the verge of collapse. And then there's the previously-discussed Divorce Italian Style, not even submitted for Foreign Language Film consideration, just a hit!

Joining them are the biopic Freud and That Touch of Mink, a rom-com in the Rock Hudson-Doris Day-Tony Randall style but with Cary Grant instead of Hudson, Gig Young instead of Randall. Day remains, thank goodness. 

The nominees:

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Cinema '62: Best Original Score

Each category always seems to have one lone nominee, the sole representative of a film that, perhaps, had greater Oscar dreams. I'm sure the lone nominee in this category had higher aspirations: Taras Bulba.

Based on the novel by Nikolai Gogol, Taras Bulba is the story of a family. Taras is a proud Cossack, a ferocious military leader, an enemy of the Poles, a friend as well a father to his sons. His sons Andriy and Ostap are educated in Kyiv, where Andriy falls in love with a Polish noblewoman. This leads to some tensions when the Cossack take arms against the Polish government. Exciting battle scenes, with so many horses, extras, and pyrotechnics, you'll thrill even as you worry for everyone's safety! A bear pit! Lots of drinking and singing! Great performances!

And, of course, a sweeping, epic score - let's discuss further:

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Cinema '62: Best Adapted Screenplay

All five Best Picture nominees were adaptations, yet the Adapted Screenplay category is a better side-by-side match with Best Director. The only exception is Divorce Italian Style, an original screenplay, which we'll discuss later. Otherwise, all the best-directed films also appear to be among the best-written, with Lolita in the fifth slot.

"How did they ever make a movie of Lolita?" That was the original ad copy, and it was a fair question - this was, after all, the controversial novel about a middle-aged pedophile defending his lust for his stepdaughter. The discerning reader can see Nabakov's disdain for his subject, as well as his distress at the elements that enable their exploitation. And he does it all with a dark, sly sense of humor - Stanley Kubrick proved a perfect match for that sensibility.

Anyway, the nominees:

Monday, October 18, 2021

Cinema '62: Best Director

Although we've seen this before, rare indeed is the Best Director lineup where the majority of nominees are representing films not nominated for Best Picture. Indeed, I believe since the category went five-wide in 1936, three lone directors have only occurred five times: 1954, 1955, 1962, 1963, 1966. Curious that they're all within a 12-year span, coinciding with the winnowing-away of the Hays Code and the growing appreciation for international cinema. 

The lone directing nominees here represent David and Lisa, a drama about youths in a residential home for mental health issues; Divorce Italian Style, an Italian comedy about a man who plots the death of his wife so he can seduce his teenage cousin; and The Miracle Worker, a surprise Best Picture snub, about Anne Sullivan teaching Helen Keller how to communicate. The directors "snubbed" are The Longest Day's triumvirate of Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, and Bernhard Wicki (with significant though uncredited contributions from Gerd Oswald and Darryl F. Zanuck); The Music Man's Morton DaCosta; and Mutiny on the Bounty's Lewis Milestone (with uncredited filming from Carol Reed, who was fired mid-production). Here's who made it:

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Cinema '62: Best Supporting Actress

Today, we look at the nominees for Best Supporting Actress, with four movies we'll be seeing a lot more of - Bird Man of Alcatraz, The Miracle Worker, Sweet Bird of Youth, To Kill a Mockingbird - and The Manchurian Candidate

The original AFI List of the 100 Greatest American Movies included The Manchurian Candidate at #67, TIME named Mrs. Iselin among the 25 Greatest Movie Villains, and Screen Drafts called it the second-best Cold War film. It's a well-done noose-tightener about brainwashed soldiers, political manipulation, and the conspiracy that binds these two into one master plan. It's interesting because there's not a lot of mystery behind it, the movie tipping its hand pretty early as to what's going on, though not necessarily why it's going on. That seems a little muddled, particularly the cross and double-cross. Great performances from Laurence Harvey and Khigh Dhiegh. Ballsy finale. Great (Oscar-nominated) editing by Ferris Webster. I wish I liked it!

The nominees:

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Cinema '62: Best Supporting Actor

Yesterday, we looked at the Adapted Scores of 1962. Today, it's the Best Supporting Actor lineup. All of these actors were here for the first time; none of them would be back for a second nomination ( of them still could, one day). We'll talk about many of these films again, but there is one film for which this was the lone nomination: Billy Budd.

Have you seen Billy Budd, co-written and directed by Peter Ustinov, adapted from the novel by Herman Melville and a play by Louis O. Coxe and Robert H. Chapman? It's a beautifully done movie whose conversations about interpreting justice, shortcomings of the law, and the decision to believe in and behave the best in the face of the worst could be dull or didactic; instead, the intelligent screenplay and complex performances make for an exciting two hours. Good year for boat films!

The nominees:

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Cinema '62: Best Adapted Score

Our first category is Adapted Score, or as it was known at the time, Scoring of Music - Adaptation or Treatment. Four of these nominees are musicals, while one of them is an "adaptation" (read: orchestration) of a score by Jackie Gleason. The nominees:

Monday, October 11, 2021

Cinema '62 Starts Now!

It's been three months - long overdue for our next retrospective, this time focusing on the year 1962. Why 1962? Honestly, Mutiny on the Bounty led me to this decision: it's the first and, so far, only time a remake of a previous Best Picture winner (1935's Mutiny on the Bounty) was itself nominated for Best Picture. With Steven Spielberg's remake of West Side Story coming, I figured it was appropriate. 

But we'll get into Best Picture next week. This week, we're looking at Adapted Score, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Director,  and Adapted Screenplay. But first, some of the other nominated films: